Today, DICE can confirm that the download, which they're dubbing the big Spring game update, will be available for PC players tomorrow. Some of the fixes came in the most recent PS3 patch and they'll have a date shortly for Xbox 360 players. Combine this with the upcoming Battlefield 3 DLC packs, and it's a good time to jump online!
The update will have players download a hefty 1.6GB update beginning tomorrow morning, and will first and foremost, will tweak almost every vehicle, weapon and weapon attachment in the game, in addition to offering a plethora of general gameplay fixes. See the full list of those changes here.
As for other improvements, the Battlefield 3 update will offer a slightly re-designed commo rose command system, new minimap views, horns on jeeps, SOFLAM improvements, and loads of class balancing for in-game feats.
The Commo Rose
New global call-outs
Moved orders to commo rose
Improved mouse handling
Improved minimap with alternative views
Map mode shows the most important tactical geometries such as buildings, objects, roads and water.
Satellite mode displays a top-down photograph of the level for increased terrain detail.
Hybrid mode combines the Satellite view with a Map overlay, offering a mix of quick tactical awareness and terrain detail.
Making air vehicles usable for New Players
If you jumped into Battlefield 3 late, the game's design severely punished any player wanted to try out a jet fighter, since it comes with nothing but a machine gun to start until players level it up. The game features no tutorials, no training modes or bots to play against, so the only way players can learn to fly, was by getting "pwned."
DICE is aiming to help rectify this by giving IR flares to all players as a form of counter-measure against incoming missiles.
Troop Transport Bonus
Fly heavy helicopters full of teammates? Now, pilots earn 50 points/kill from anyone inside the chopper killing enemies.
SOFLAM Use is Fair
One of the neat team play mechanics of Battlefield 3 is when recon players paint targets for engineers and aircraft to lock onto with target-locking missiles (i.e. the Javelin). The problem is that the person who fires the rocket gets a ton of points for knocking down a vehicle with people in it but the person doing the SOFLAMing gets practically nothing.
With the update, recon players can place the SOFLAM and leave it there - it'll target vehicles on its own wherever it is pointed, allowing them to continue sniping. DICE also explains there's a scoring error that's being fixed with this patch as well which will hopefully address the issue I'm referring to. Needless to say, playing recon now can earn you good points as well for helping the team.
Instead of suppressing 7 enemies in a round to earn the Suppression Ribbon, players get a ribbon for every three enemies they suppress, making support characters and their big LMGs another source of quicker experience points.
Yes, you've asked for it and it took nearly half a year to come to fruition, but now when you ride in that pretty jeep, press the space bar let it roar. Jeeps have horns. Finally.
Pay to Level Up Quicker
The controversial part of the update comes from the EA business side of things and it's something Mass Effect 3 multiplayer players have seen as well. 10 "shortcut" items are being added to Origin which allow players to pay real-life cash to speed their progression. Yes, this generates an incentive for future EA games to delay player progress in order to have them pay to level up. It's not something veteran players will like to see, but it offers a quick way for players to earn unlocks they don't have time for or don't want to work for.
The debate is whether or not that's something companies should make money off of but it's quickly becoming the norm with the growing popularity of free-to-play and casual games. Let's not forget that DICE is considering a Battlefield subscription service not unlike what they're Call of Duty competitors already utilize.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for more on Battlefield.